Occupation-specific dispensation – an exercise in bad faith negotiations or promise for the future?

  • Andy Gray University of KwaZulu-Natal


For many SAAHIP members working in the public sector, the very term “occupation-specific dispensation” (OSD) sets their teeth on edge. For too long this seems to have been dangled as the proverbial carrot – a vague promise of better things to come; a reason to stick it out under increasingly trying conditions. The reality of the OSD, as it is being implemented at the moment, seems far removed from that initial promise, and many pharmacists in the public sector feel betrayed. They feel that the employer (the national and provincial Departments of Health) has engaged in bad faith negotiation, has ignored reasoned inputs, and has little or no regard for the contribution pharmacists make to the safe and effective use of medicines. Pharmacist’s assistants also feel aggrieved. Pharmacy personnel as a group feel that their medical colleagues have secured a better deal, in recognition not only of their professional status and numbers, but also their perceived political power. Although pharmacists took part in the unprotected and controversial strike actions that occurred in many parts of the country, the media portrayed these as “doctors’ strikes”, apparently ignoring the plight of the other two categories of healthcare professionals involved (pharmacy and emergency personnel). This article seeks to answer the following question: was the OSD merely an exercise in bad faith negotiations or does the outcome hold meaningful promise for the future?

Author Biography

Andy Gray, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Department of Therapeutics and Medicines Management Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine University of KwaZulu-Natal